Compassion Fatigue

Everyone in the “helping professions” feels it from time to time. They warn us about it in school and make sure we take time for “self care.” People who don’t take time for themselves are the ones that burn out. I didn’t think I would start feeling it quite so soon, but I think my particular case has more to do with my job with the imprisoned children than with anything else. My reservoir of compassion for dealing with constant disrespect and violence (and getting bloodied in the line of duty) is running dry.

Or maybe I’m just feeling fatigued. Been having an extremely difficult time getting out of bed in the mornings. Maybe sleeping too much. Fighting off allergies so bad that I’m having sinus headaches for days that make me nauseous. I’m resisting the idea that maybe it’s a low-grade depression setting in. The days are already so short. It’s raining more. The sky has been gray, and the days chilly and windy. I love fall; I’m looking forward to the crisp air and leaves changing, but dreading the gray skies and rain. Conversations with long-time Portlanders has again started to turn to UV lamps installed in living rooms and above headboards. I’m so worried about healthcare reform that my stomach is in knots and it keeps me awake. Before there was the potential for anything to be better, it was tolerable (barely). But now that we’ve gotten so close to such a better world, having it slip away will be devastating.

But the internship is going really well. I’m loving some of my clients, and doing really good work, which is pleasing me a great deal. There are some other organizations in town I’m super excited to maybe start getting involved with (like this one that I totally have a crush on, and that SMYRC is going to start working with in some capacity, and that thrills me) in all of my free time (*snort*). This city has such incredible social service agencies. It’s so inspiring. Too bad it’s totally fucked in almost every other capacity. The city can’t even pay schoolteachers anymore, so they’re just firing them all. During the last legislative session, the governor warned (perhaps somewhat hyperbolically) that if teachers want to keep schools open, they should start working for free. It’s incredibly depressing. Oregon is officially broke and jobless.

But I’m happy overall. With my internship. My clients. School. My little nest with my boyfriend and my kitten and my warm books. Leonard Cohen at the Isle of Wight in 1970 on the TV right now.


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